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Macondo Workshop Continues In Its Own Write


For decades now writers from around the world have descended on San Antonio for the Macondo Writers' Workshop, which begins next week.

The idea was hatched by author Sandra Cisneros, who decided to use her success to help other writers. 

Cisneros was raised in Chicago. After working as a teacher and counselor, and buoyed by sales of her breakout novel House on Mango Street, she bought a house here in San Antonio's King William District, on Guenther Street. 

In 1995, in her kitchen, she cooked up the fun idea of a non-profit writers' workshop. During an appearance on the KLRN program Conversations, she said the workshop’s name was inspired by a fictional Colombian town and a novel set there.

"The Macondo Foundation is named after the mythical town of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez,” she said. 

She established Macondo and before long, gave it a home across the street from hers. The writer who lived in that house decided to move on, and she put it up for sale.

“I thought it would be really, really great to buy that house with the money from House On Mango Street because the House on Mango Street was about having a house of your own,” Cisneros said. “A metaphoric house. A spiritual house. One in which you can create, and do whatever you want."

The Macondo workshop started small but quickly grew.

“It began with just a dozen writers that I hand-picked, writers from across the country, and writers internationally," she said. 

Twenty years later, with her dual Mexican/American citizenship, Cisneros has moved to San Miguel de Allende, and her and the Macondo houses were sold but the writers' workshop continues to help writers in San Antonio realize their dreams.

"We just act as a family, as a tribe to help make the work better, get finished and to promote it," Cisneros said. 

Credit Jack Morgan
Cisneros' former house on Guenther Street

Writers accepted into Macondo are called Macondistas. Viktoria Valenzuela, herself a Macondista, says the workshops are there to help writers find their professional footing. And for the general public in this workshop, she said there’s a treat: Cisneros herself.

"In the evening. We will have a faculty reading of our workshop leaders [and] a staged adaptation of Sandra Cisneros' book Have You Seen Marie with opening reader Richard Blanco," she said. 

You may remember Blanco's poetry reading at former President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. 


Valenzuela says at Macondo you can meet the authors and hear them read their work.

"At the show there will be books and book signings by all of our authors," Valenzuela said. 

Macondo programs run in several different venues Wednesday through Friday next week. They are free but donations are welcome.  

IF YOU GO What: Macondo Writers’ Workshop Where: Various locations, including Texas A&M University, San Antonio Central Library, San Antonio College and more  When: July 23-28, various times Cost:  free

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii